A first group of 17 Mbororo nomads left Wau in South Sudan’s Western Bahr El-Ghazal State today to be repatriated to the Central African Republic (CAR).
The repatriation follows a history of uneasy relations and disputes over grazing land between the Mbororo and host community.
“It was June 2011 that the Western Bahr El-Ghazal State government declared in a meeting held with all the UN Agencies that the Mbororo should leave the state,” said UNMISS Wau Civil Affairs Officer Victor Fasama.
To easy their journey, the state government had arranged for safe passage through Western Equatoria State with its governor and was providing an escort of South Sudan Police officers, Mr. Fasama said.
The repatriation was organized by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in coordination with UNMISS, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other UN agencies, with support from the state government.
The agencies are assisting the Mbororo with transport as well as food and non-food items, including first aid kits, for the journey. “We are supporting this voluntary repatriation as these people are vulnerable and need protection,” said Elia Carlaccini, UNHCR head in the state.
AbuBakar Adam Mohamed, head chief of the Mbororo Community in Western Bahr El-Ghazal, said his people were leaving due to the government policy, adding that “the situation of Mbororo in Wau has deteriorated, leaving them hopeless”.
Mbororo member Belo Osman said he had decided to return with his wife and eight children to CAR, where his brothers live, after hearing that his father had died. “I have been in Western Bahr El-Ghazal State for more than eight years and am now leaving for Mboki.”
Out of about 300 Mbororo in the area, 200 had decided to go to Tulus in South Darfur, and preparations were underway for their departure, Chief Mohamed said.
Of 20 who had opted for the Central African Republic, three had stayed in Western Bahr El-Ghazal due to health problems, he said. The remaining 30 would soon leave for Blue Nile State in Sudan to join family members there.
UNHCR head Carlaccini said a similar repatriation programme would be organized for Mbororo going to South Darfur, although this would be more complicated due to the current political situation (tension) between Sudan and South Sudan.